This is one of the most important questions in the world of scalp micropigmentation, and one that at least half of all prospective clients ask. It’s weird that this subject isn’t more widely covered. Anyway, I thought you should know the facts about dot size, and the key things you really need to know.
The backdrop to this post is as follows:
In scalp micropigmentation, each dot is intended to replicate a real shaven hair follicle. In order to achieve this, the dot must be the right size and shade, and it must stand the test of time. Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen, hence why so many people feel the need to ask what kind of dot size they can expect from their provider. The underlying question of course, and what they really want to know, is whether or not their treatment is going to look like real hair.
Do the best clinics use the smallest needles?
This is a myth. Whilst the size of the needle does have some bearing on the size of the dot, other variables such as the type of machine used, the needle stroke and the pressure applied by the technician are far more significant in determining dot size.
By far the most significant factor is the amount of pressure the technician applies to the needle. The more pressure, the larger the dot. This is because the pressure applied determines the penetration depth, and this is crucial. The molecular structure of the upper dermis (epidermis) is much ‘tighter’ and more uniform. When pigment is applied at this level, a small and well defined dot is formed. If the pigment is applied too deep in the dermis, the structure is less dense and the pigment spreads, resulting in larger, less defined dots. This can contribute to the ‘helmet’ look, a common complaint where a treatment looks like one solid shade with little individual dot definition.
Permanent makeup and tattoo artists generally use a lot more pressure than is used by scalp micropigmentation technicians. This sometimes causes problems when a technician tries to cross into scalp micropigmentation. They use the same technique and equipment as they’ve always used, and with the very best of intentions, but fail to recognise that SMP is fundamentally different.
Can the dots be too small?
Yes. Actually it is not the size of the dots that is the real issue, but more so the very shallow penetration depth that is necessary in order to achieve a very small dot.
Whilst shallow penetration is generally good in the world of scalp micropigmentation, too shallow a depth causes problems of its own. For example, when the micro-wound heals and scabs over, the entire pigment deposit is often removed when the scab falls off. Rather than leave behind a smaller dot, the client may find themselves with no dot at all. A further long term implication is that the pigment deposits are much more susceptible to ultraviolet rays from the sun. This is likely to result in aggressive fading, requiring the client to return for a top-up treatment much sooner than anticipated.